Movies To Watch Out For in 2012

And so the New Year is almost upon us, when we painfully promise to detox, join a gym and catch up on those DIY jobs. And we only have to wait another couple of weeks to watch helplessly as all those New Year resolutions crumble to the wayside one by one. Well, life's too short for that sort of self-delusion. People talk about being drunk, fat and lazy like it's a bad thing. Anyway, what better than an escape into the world of movies to distract from your pickled liver, your expanding waistline and tumbledown house? Here's a few notable releases over the next 12 months to get you started. It'll take a few minutes to read, so why not grab that leftover box of Quality Street to help you concentrate. Go on, I'll wait here, sure you can always start that diet next Monday.

THE AWARD HOPEFULS

 

The Artist (release date 6/1/12)
Who'd have thunk it? The front runner for all the big award ceremonies is a silent, black-and-white, French romantic-comedy set in the 1920s. But it's not just critics who have fallen under its spell. Punters who would normally run screaming in the opposite direction at the description have taken it to their hearts too. Why? Well, it seems audiences actually respond to great characters, good story-telling and emotionally involving films. How about that for a novel concept? Naturally, phrases like 'good story-telling' and 'emotionally involving' have various studio executives in Hollywood scratching their heads in puzzlement.




War Horse (13/1/12)
After the frivolous fun of last year's Tintin, Spielberg returns to the arena of war for this adaptation of the book/play about a horse and his boy set during WWI. Early reports from the paddock is that he has fashioned his most affecting film since E.T. with hardened critics dissolving into tears during press-screenings. But that is unlikely to impress Spielberg's neigh-sayers, who bemoan his ability to make films without lapsing into sentimentality. They might have a point, though. The rather uninspired trailer looks rather cloying, so nag-ging doubts remain about this one. Expect many critics to shoehorn in horse-related puns to their reviews. Amateurs.



Shame (13/1/12)
Last time they collaborated, director Steve McQueen and star Michael Fassbender turned out the acclaimed, but grim, hunger strike drama Hunger. Now they've turned out an acclaimed, but grim, sex-addiction drama. By all accounts, an explicit, provocative movie which has raised more than just eyebrows at various film festivals over the last few months, with praise singled out for the brave (ie naked) acting of Fassbender and co-star Carey Mulligan. Probably not one to watch with Granny, though. Unless she's into that sort of thing.





THE COMIC BOOK BLOCKBUSTERS

The Dark Knight Rises (20/7/12)
After the commercial and critical success of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it seems unlikely that Christopher Nolan will mess things up now with the final part in the trilogy. Little is known about the plot except that the main villain is Bane (nope, me neither), Catwoman slinks into the story somewhere and Batman will presumably rise at some point. Expect fights, explosions, an effortless amble past the $1 billion mark at the box-office and several fanboys to explode with excitement. Reports that studio execs in Hollywood are hoping one of the cast will do a Heath Ledger and therefore boost publicity are unfounded.



The Amazing Spider-Man (4/7/12)
Hollywood blows the dust of the Spider-Man franchise, which is now - oh, let me see - a whole 10 years old. It's not a re-make, though. No, sir. Instead it starts over with Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as a geeky college kid who gets bitten by a spider, awkwardly romances his girl and faces off against a green super-villain in the form of The Lizard. Wait, how is this different form the first time round? "It's a different universe with different story and different characters" insists director Marc Webb with a commendably straight face. Well, despite my Spidey-sense sending out warning signals, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but only because his surname is Webb.




The Avengers (27/4/12)
Not content with saving the world in their own individual films, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk all team up to, er, save the world again. And probably avenge someone. Or something. Expect actors jostling for screen time, 'comic' banter and an absolute shedload of CGI. These sort of ensemble flicks never really work, though. And why is there no mention of John Steed and Emma Peel?



FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Brave (17/8/12)
Pixar took a bit of a critical bashing over Cars 2, although it could hardly have been considered a flop as it cruised into the Top 10 films at the 2011 box office. Still, expect them to bounce back with this original fairy tale set in the Scottish Highlands. It's like Braveheart, only with a female heroine and with less bloodshed, less Mel Gibson, better hair and more magic. So, not like Braveheart at all, come to think of it. So forget that and just chalk up another hit for Pixar.



Prometheus (1/6/12)
As I have argued elsewhere on this site, Ridley Scott has only ever made two good films and both were sci-fi. He has finally realised this himself and returns to the genre with Prometheus, which is a prequel to Alien. Except it's not really. Apparently, everyone's favourite lethal xenomorph will not feature here and it'll all be about the crew of the spaceship Prometheus encountering another alien race. These ones are somehow linked to the one who was driving the crashed spaceship on LV-426 in the original Alien and who are tinkering with bio-engineering. It looks good, but it all sounds a bit muddled, but then again it is Ridley Scott telling the story.




The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (28/3/12)
Pirates are cool. Scientists are cool. I should know, I've been both in my time. Now they're together at last on the big screen. The first book in Gideon Defoe's popular series is brought to the screen in stop-motion format by the creators of Wallace & Gromit, with Hugh Grant signed on for voice duties. Could well be the funniest film of the year - the trailer is great. At any rate, gives us an excuse to say 'Aaarrrrrrrr!' a lot. And that's always fun.



WAY OVER YONDER ON THE HORIZON

Skyfall (26/10/12)
James Bond will return, we keep being told. And here he is, hoping to make amends for the turgid mess that was Quantum of Solace. This time the director is Sam Mendes, better known for his suburban dramas American Beauty and Revolutionary Road than action flicks, which could be interesting. Does this mean we can expect Bond to dice with danger as he prunes his rose bushes, struggles with the traffic during the school run and gets Q round to fix the washing machine? Javier Bardem is on hand as the megalomaniac madman looking to move in on Bond's quiet cul-de-sac. Maybe.



Midnight's Children (Late 2012)
Anyone familiar with Salman Rushdie's sprawling, historical, magical realist Best of Booker novel will have just one word on their lips; 'How?'. Secretly filmed in Sri Lanka to avoid protests from Islamic fundamentalists, this one could set the literary and cinema worlds alight if it pulls it off. And the rest of the world if the wrong people take offense. No trailer yet, so just go and read the book. If you start now, you'll just about get it finished by Autumn.



The Hobbit (14/12/12)
No avoiding the olyphaunt in the room next December as the long awaited prequel to Lord of the Rings finally means a return to Middle-Earth. It's been split into two parts in a transparent attempt to make more money in an effort to do justice to the book, which means we'll have to go there and back again before it's over, but that shouldn't be a problem if it's anywhere close to the quality of LOTR. But doubts still linger. The Hobbit is not as good a book as LOTR, production has been troubled, Peter Jackson's recent films have been underwhelming and it features James Nesbitt. These are not good omens. Still, expect it to rule them all come next Christmas.



So, a dozen films to look out for during the year ahead. I'll be reviewing them all on here, so make sure to check back for updates. Although when I say all, I mean some. Or at least one, anyway. Happy New Year!

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